Vause family connections

Sandy Struckmeyer

On Saturday 30th April 2011 we visited Sandy Struckmeyer and her daughter Kerry at their home in Robertson in the Western Cape. Sandy is a cousin on the Vause side of the family, whom I had not met before, though we have corresponded about the family history for several years, and we had lived at some of the same places, though at different times, so our paths had not crossed.

Sandy is my third cousin, our common ancestors being our great great grandparents Richard and Matilda Vause (nee Park). Sandy married Tim Struckmeyer in Melmoth, Zululand in 1988 (we had lived in Melmoth from 1977-1982) and their daughter Kerry was born in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1993 (I lived in Windhoek 1969-1972).

Our ancestors Richard and Matilda Vause came to Natal in 1852, and Richard Vause was the proprietor of the Natal Mercury, and was five times mayor of Durban. His eldest son was my great grandfather, Richard Wyatt Vause (1854-1926), whose younger brother Robert (1859-1922) was Sandy’s great grandfather. Robert Vause bought the farm Argyle, at Ixopo, at auction in 1922, and it was inherited by Sandy’s grandfather Vic Vause.

Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Park, Vause and Drake families of Hull and Bath

One of the long-standing mysteries of our family history is how my great great grandfather Richard Vause, who lived in Hull, met his bride Matilda Park, who was born in Belfast and lived in Bath. He was living in Hull in the 1851 census, and at the beginning of 1852 they were married in Bath and very soon sailed to Natal.

Now we’ve found a couple of census records that could explain how they met.

Matilda Park was the daughter of William Park (of Belfast, Bath and Quebec) and Mary Martin (daughter of John Martin of Belfast). There is more information about the family here and here.

One of Matilda Park’s sisters was Margaret Martin Park, who married James Drake, a surgeon dentist, at St Saviour’s Church, Bath, on 8 June 1848, and the 1851 census shows them in Hull, as visitors in the home of Simeon Mosely, also a surgeon dentist, at 15 Whitefriars Gate, Holy Trinity, Hull.  Their daughter Mary Edith Drake was born in Hull in about December 1850.

Perhaps James Drake and Simeon Mosely were partners in a dental practice, and perhaps Richard Vause was one of their patients, and maybe Matilda Park went to Hull to visit her sister. A lot of maybes, perhaps, or perhapses, maybe. But the fact that members of the Park family were living in Hull in 1850 could explain how Richard Vause met them.

In the 1861 census the Drake family were living at Castle Church, Staffordshire, and in 1871 in Warwickshire, where Margaret Drake appears to have died in 1878.

Mary Edith Drake was later known as Edith, and was single, living on her own means in Penge, London, in the 1891 census. She appears to have been the only child, and does not seem to have married, so there’s no point in looking for present-day relatives from that branch of the family.

Perhaps one thing that could be added is that last week I was contacted by Peter Henderson, who is researching a William Park/Mary Martin family for a friend. That family is in Scotland, and it is not the same family as the one I have been describing here. Peter said a Catherine Raw had a family tree that has conflated the two families. Richard and Matilda Vause’s eldest daughter Polly did marry a John James Raw, so there is a link between the Vause and Raw families, though I’m not sure where Catherine fits in. But the Park/Martin family of Scotland appears to be entirely separate, with no link to ours.

Early history of the Vause family

I recently came across another Vause cousin on the web, Penny Howell in Canada and have been looking again at the earliest Vause ancestors we have recorded.

The earliest member of the Vause family that we know of is Robert Vause, of Kelsey in South Lincolnshire, who voted in Epworth in the election of the Knights of the Shire, and died in 1748.

But that is open to question.

The information came from Arthur Wyatt Ellis who compiled (or had compiled) a family tree which made its way to several members of the family in South Africa. Don Stayt had a photocopy, as did Mollie Vause-Doyle. The information may have come from the will of this Robert Vause of South Kelsey, who apparently left his lands in Epworth to his son Robert. The tree shows two other sons, Richard and Thomas. Richard is our ancestor.

Arthur Wyatt Ellis was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales (according to the 1880 census), the son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was himself the son of Phineas Samuel Ellis and Fanny Vause. He obviously maintained some contact with the family in South Africa, since his family tree made its way here.

But it seems more likely that Richard and Thomas were the sons of John Vause and Anne Gilliott of Epworth, who were married in Epwoth in 1702. If  so, then there were two other brothers, John and Alexander, but no Robert. Perhaps this will be answered if we can find the will of Robert Vause of South Kelsey.

For more on this see the Vause family page on our family Wiki.

Cottam and Bagot and reading novels

I went to the LDS Family History Centre in Johannesburg today and transcribed more baptism records for the Cottam, Bagot and Mashiter families.

I reread Rider Haggard’s novel Allan Quatermain, and found that family history made me enjoy it more, as it had links with my great grandfather Wyatt Vause and Val’s great grandfather Daniel William Pearson. I’ve written about it more fully in my LiveJournal.

Vause marriage discovered

For more than 30 years I’d been looking for a Vause marriage, and I think I’ve found it. It’s been staring me in the face for the last couple of years, when someone sent me an index of Vause births, marriages and deaths from Lincolnshire in England.

My great great grandfather Richard Vause (1822-1886), who came to South Africa in 1852, was the son of John Vause (1784-1863) and Eleanor Wyatt. John Vause was himself the son of John Vause (1747-1823) and Elizabeth, whose maiden name we did not know. The elder John Vause was the son of Richard Vause (1720-1751) and Elizabeth Hill, who remarried Francis Whitehead in 1756.

I was checking the index again, to see if there were any matches to things I had found in the Crowle church registers and censuses, and there it was, staring me in the face: John Vause married Elizabeth Brooks in Epworth on 7 January 1780

I’m pretty sure this is the right one, because they had four children born to them in the 1780s, Richard, John, Samuel and Sarah. Samuel and Sarah died young (and Elizabeth died shortly before Sarah, possibly as a result of complications following childbirth).

Richard married a Fanny, and apparently lived in Hull, and it seems that his nephew and namesake lived with his aunt in Hull before marrying Matilda Park in Bath and emigrating to Natal.

Anywway, the next step is to discover Elizabeth Brooks’s parents. Another one whose parents are still unknown is Elizabeth Hill, but she is said to have been the sister of a John Hill, Gent., of Hull. A Mary Vause married a John Hill in 1770, and this Mary was probably a niece of the Richard Vause who married Elizabeth Hill, so the Vause-Hill connection needs to be followed up.